The Dixmoor Five

The Dixmoor Five$40 million settlement in Dixmoor case

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced on June 25, 2014, that the state has agreed pay $40 million to settle civil claims brought against the State Police on behalf of the so-called Dixmoor Five — from left above, James Harden, Jonathan BarrRobert Taylor, Robert Lee Veal and Shainnie Sharp.

The amount matched that of a settlement announced less than a week earlier for the five innocent defendants in the Central Park Jogger case in New York and was record for an Illinois wrongful conviction settlement — the previous record having been $36 million awarded in the Cook County case known as the Ford Heights Four in 1999.

But the total settlement for the Dixmoor Five — who languished behind bars a total of 95 years for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl before they were exonerated in 2011 — almost certainly will set a national record when outstanding claims against the Village of Dixmoor are resolved.

The five defendants in the case were convicted as a result of their false confessions to the  murder of Cateresa Matthews, who had been missing for 20 days when her body was found on December 8, 1991, on a path running along I-57 in Dixmoor. She had been raped and shot in the mouth with a .25-caliber weapon.

The convictions occurred even though DNA testing by the Illinois State Police crime laboratory had excluded all five as the source of semen recovered from the victim.

The exonerations occurred in 2011 after a DNA profile of the semen recovered from the victim was run through the National Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the source was identified as Willie Randolph, who, at the time of the crime, was 33 years old, lived in the victim’s neighborhood, and was on parole after serving a 20-year sentence for armed robbery.

Randolph remained at large and not charged when Governor Quinn announced the $40 million settlement.